ecosystems can have substantial feedbacks on the climate system
through changes in the uptake or release of relevant greenhouse gases
such as carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and nitrous oxide (N2O), and by regulating energy and water exchanges between the land surface
and the atmosphere. Terrestrial ecosystems are in turn strongly
dependent on changes in climate and land use. To date, the consequences
of these climate-ecosystem interactions on the global climate system
are largely unknown.
My research focuses on understanding how changes in climate and
land use affect terrestrial ecosystems to help us predict how global
change will shape the climate-ecosystem interactions and impact the
global climate system. To answer these questions I combine
ecological and physiological approaches in field and lab
experiments. I am also particularly interested in using data
synthesis approaches to understand how GHG dynamics respond to changes
in climate and land use.
Ecological sustainability of energy cane as a biofuel feedstock
Changes in land use can have a
large impact on the global climate system with consequences that are
difficult to predict. As part of a collaborative effort between Evan DeLucia and Carl Bernacchi Labs, we are investigating the impact of land conversion from grazed
pastures to energy cane plantations on GHG dynamics (CO2, CH4, and N2O),
water and energy fluxes.
Changes in land use may affect ecosystem
parameters –plant productivity, soil temperature and moisture– that can
alter ecosystem GHG dynamics. Studying the effects of changes in land
use on GHG dynamics implies a thorough understanding of the mechanisms
underlying GHG dynamics. For this purpose, we are combining
eddy covariance and soil chamber methods along with measurements of
plant and soil parameters. This project is funded by the Energy
Biosciences Institute (EBI).
Eddy covariance tower in a grazed pasture
Central Florida.(FL, USA)
Carbon (C) sequestration and Soil respiration in Midwest agricultural land
As a postdoctoral researcher in collaboration with UIC and ANL we investigated how
Net Ecosystem Exchange (NEE) is affected by changes in climate
and vegetation. This project was funded by DOE and aimed to study the C
sequestration potential of Midwest agricultural land (Matamala et al., submitted). A major objective of my research was to investigate
the mechanisms underlying variations in soil respiration and its
partitioning –autotrophic and heterotrophic respiration –
(Gomez-Casanovas et al., submitted). We combined micrometeorological,
soil respiration chamber and C isotopic methods to partition soil
Soil respiration chambers
(Licor 8100-8150) in a Midwest restored prairie (IL, USA)
Effects of elevated CO2 on plant respiration
Climate can also affect crucial physiological processes such as plant respiration. During my PhD research at UB I studied how elevated CO2 affects plant respiration and the respiratory machinery in the CAM plant Opuntia ficus-indica (Gomez-Casanovas et al., 2007). This project was funded by
Spanish government. I have also contributed to scientific and
educational literature addressing how changes in climate affect
physiology at the plant level (Azcon-Bieto et al., 2008; Azcon-Bieto et
al 2004; Sanchez-Diaz et al., 2004).
Confocal images of photosynthetic cells of Opuntia cladodes showing mitochondria.
Plants were grown at either ambient (A) or elevated CO2 (E).